1956, 1979, 2007

Khachaturian: Spartacus (1979, 2007) by The Bolshoi National Orchestra

As far as I can tell, this is the orchestral music from a 1979 performance of Khachaturian’s Spartacus. It is the complete four suites, I believe (or, rather, all the music). I definitely prefer listening to it all at once, instead of hearing one suite or something like that.

Khachaturian’s first name (Aram) is an occasional clue in the NYT crossword. I know it’s used because they love short words with two or more vowels, but it’s interesting to me that this man, of all Soviet composers, is the one known to Americans. I believe there’s a good reason for this, shown off by this ballet, as well as the other music I’ve heard of his so far – he’s easy.

American “classical” music before minimalism was all about the big easy melodies of Barber and Copland. It should come as no surprise that a bombastic, melodic, composer with less nuance to his music than other Russians should become famous in the US.

As you can tell, I don’t particularly like this. It’s loud, it’s hummable, it’s long, it’s safe (and not just by Soviet standards). Sure, it lacks the “hit” from Gayane, but it’s much of the same quality in its bombast and its ease of communicating its musical ideas.

Very meh.


  1. Scene 1: The Triumph Of Rome: No.1: Triumphal March
  2. Scene 2: The Slave Market:
    1. No.2: The Slave Market
    2. No.3: Dance Of A Greek Slave
    3. No.4: Dance Of An Egyptian Girl
    4. No.5: Scene Of Crassus And Aegina
    5. No.6: Dance Of Phrygia And Scene Of Her Parting From Spartacus
  3. Scene 3: The Circus:
    1. No.7: Prelude
    2. No.8: Pantomime “Rape Of The Sabines”
    3. No.9: March Of The Gladiators
    4. No.10: The Fight Of The Andabatae
    5. No.11: “The Fisherman And The Fish” (The Fight Of Retiarius And Mormillon, Gladiators)
    6. No.12: Fight Of Thracians And Samnites
    7. No.13: Spartacus’ Victory
  4. Scene 4: Gladiators’ Barracks:
    1. No.14: The Death Of A Gladiator
    2. No.15: Spartacus’ Call To Arms – The Beginning Of The Gladiators’ Uprising
  5. Scene 5: The Appian Way:
    1. No.16: Prelude
    2. No.17: “The Wolf And The Ewe”, A Play-Dance Of A Shepherd And Shepherdess
    3. No.18: Entrance Of Spartacus, Phrygia And Gladiators
    4. No.19: The Scene Of Uprising
  6. Scene 6: The Feast Of Crassus:
    1. No.20: The Beginning Of The Feast
    2. No.21: Dance Of The Nymphs
    3. No.22: The Entrance Of Harmodius
    4. No.23: Adagio Of Aegina And Harmodius
    5. No.24: Variation Of Harmodius
    6. No.25: Variation Of Aegina
    7. No.26: The Final Bacchanalian Scene
    8. No.27: Scene And Dance With Crotalums
    9. No.28: Dance Of The Gladiators: The Rebels’ Approach
    10. No.29: The Captured Romans Fight As Gladiators
    11. No.30: The Young Thracians’ Sword Dance
    12. No.31: Martial Dance Of Three Of Spartacus’ Warriors
    13. No.32: Spartacus Is Proclaimed King – Scene Of Honouring Spartacus
  7. Scene 7: Spartacus’ Camp:
    1. No.33: Prelude
    2. No.34: Adagio Of Spartacus And Phrygia
    3. No.35: The Arrival Of Merchants, General Dance
    4. No.36: Dance Of A Roman Coutesan
    5. No.37: General Dance
    6. No.38: Entrance Of Spartacus
    7. No.39: Quarrel Among Spartacus’ Generals
    8. No.40: Harmodius’ Treachery
  8. Scene 8: Crassus’ Camp:
    1. No.41: Prelude And Aegina’s Dance Before Crassus
    2. No.42: Crassus’ Victory
  9. Scene 9: Death Of Spartacus
    1. No.43: Prelude. The Pirates
    2. No.44: Dance Of The Pirates, Scene Of Spartacus
    3. No.45: Spartacus’ Hopes Are Frustrated
    4. No.46: The Battle. The Death Of Spartacus
    5. No.47: Requiem
  10. Supplementary Numbers:
    1. A Bacchante’s Melancholy Dance
    2. Night Incident
    3. Tarantella
    4. Saturnalia

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